William M. Mihalic ’45
William Matthew Mihalic passed away peacefully at home, April 3, 2016, in the company of his daughter, exactly two months after the passing of his beloved wife of 69 years, Eleanore Marie Mihalic. United again in heaven, they dance together in the light of the Lord.
A first generation American, Bill was delivered by his father at home on the family farm in Trafford, Pennsylvania. He was the fifth of seven children born to Thomas and Margaret. His first years of education were in a one room schoolhouse. He supported his family by doing farm chores and sold milk from a wagon during the Depression.
Later, Bill’s family moved to Ambridge, PA, where his father Thomas worked as a factory supervisor while his children furthered their education. Bill’s first job was delivering newspapers. In a foreshadowing of his future career in labor relations, he led his fellow newsboys in a strike for a 1/8-cent increase per paper, resulting in a day in jail. Willing to accept challenges and anxious to help others, he was a natural participant in Ambridge’s 1,000 mile bicycle relay to raise money for charity.
As a teenager, Bill was a talented amateur boxer. The highlight of his promising career was sparring with the world welterweight champion, Fritzie Zivic, After high school graduation at the age of 17, Bill worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) until he was old enough to join National Electric as a machinist’s apprentice. This program required 8,000 hours over 3 ½ years. While there, he earned the trust and respect of his co-workers who elected him president of the IBEW local.
Bill enrolled at the Marine Maritime Academy. Upon graduation he was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and served aboard the U.S.S. Doyen (APA 1) assisting personnel transport in the WWII Pacific Theater. While on leave, Bill met Eleanore at a dance in Verona, PA. The next morning he informed his family he had found the woman he was going to marry. They exchanged letters and photos while Bill was deployed overseas. Their marriage on September 21,1946 began a lifelong celebration of each other, their children and countless friends. Their grateful family includes children Bill (Barbara), Sue, and Jeff (Nancy) as well as grandchildren Mary (Ryen Sack), Joe and Max.
In lieu of flowers Bill suggested memorial gifts to St. John Vianney or the Inland Northwest Honor Flight. A rosary will be said at St. John Vianney on April 6, 2016, at 5:00 PM. A funeral mass will be celebrated at St. John Vianney on April 7, 2016, at 10:00 AM followed by a reception at the church. Burial will be at Fairmount Memorial Park.